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FRANKFURT -- BMW's new CEO, Oliver Zipse, urged employees to embrace change and to find innovative ways to help the automaker overtake rival Mercedes-Benz at a time when demand for luxury cars is waning.

Zipse addressed staff in an internal email a day after his predecessor Harald Krueger stepped down.

BMW has lost ground to Mercedes-Benz producer Daimler in the past five years and seen rivals such as Tesla jump ahead in electric car sales.

"Instead of blaming the current situation, conditions, political landscape or particular individuals, a positive spirit will enable us to seize the opportunities available to us. Such a positive spirit will be reflected in our culture: the harder the job, the more innovative our solution," Zipse said.

"We don't always have to be first, but we most certainly have to be far better than our competitors in everything that we do. This applies not only to our products and services, but also to our processes and structures, as well as our costs," he said.

BMW has already narrowed the sales gap between BMW and Mercedes and is preparing to launch more models, Zipse said.

BMW's flexible production methods, which allow it to build electric and combustion-engined cars on the same production line, provide a major competitive advantage because it will allow the automaker to scale up or slow down production of electric cars in line with demand, Zipse said.
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